This month sees the opening of Vinoteca in Borough Yards, near London Bridge.
This will be the sixth site for the business and number seven will follow in a few months, in Birmingham – the company’s first foray outside London.
Founded by Charlie Young, Brett Woonton and Elena Ares, Vinoteca launched in 2005 with its first shop and bar in Farringdon. Young describes the company’s subsequent growth as “manageable” and is confident the team has retained its ability to “turn on a sixpence,” which certainly helped the business through the past two years.
“We do have a few sites but we’re not a huge company,” Young says. “Like a lot of other operators we spent a lot of time and effort in keeping in contact with our staff [during lockdown] and we topped up on the furlough. So when we were ready to re-open we had a really good core team ready and engaged, so we’ve been OK.”
It wasn’t the intention to open two large sites in a short space of time, but that’s just the way it worked out, Young says.
“It’s always a bumpy ride,” he adds. “After you’ve done it a couple of times you expect delays and we’ve certainly had those on this project. Borough Yards is a cracking site. It’s a busy area and everyone trades there really well.”
Young says Vinoteca reviews its list of around 200 wines twice a year and normally changes half of it, making sure the range is kept refreshed with new finds.
In addition it imports direct from France, Spain and Romania as well as working with an “old friend” in South Australia who produces Vinoteca’s own-label wine, Rodney and the Horse.
“We don’t wholesale – we’ve thought about it but I think we have enough on our plates,” Young says.
With the Birmingham site set to open in May, what’s next for Vinoteca?
“We are keeping a close eye on a couple of places that would suit us really well,” Young reveals.
“One example is Battersea Power Station which is an amazing development. We were first looking at that about seven years ago but it’s such a big development. That’s probably going to be the end of this year, but who knows. We’ve learnt that from the moment you identify a site it takes a very long time.”